Sixty instructors, counselors, and staff from all over the CNMI recently reviewed how distance education performed last school year and explored ways on how to enhance distance education content even more this coming school year.
The Instructional Technology & Distance Education Professional Development training, conducted at the Kensington Hotel Saipan and led by ITDE director Dr. Bobby Cruz and program manager Lorraine Catienza of the Public School System, highlighted the program’s performance for the last school year and focused on bringing a higher level of service to the students and professionals in the CNMI.
“Problems have a way of catalyzing innovative solutions, and this is particularly true if destiny gifts you with the right people in the right places,” said Cruz, adding that this is true with ITDE. “Every member of this team is highly collaborative, empathetic, respectful, highly skilled and driven to innovate for our students. Together, we have worked tirelessly to lay bricks to set the foundation for where we are today.”
He said the ITDE has used technology to address teacher shortages, particularly on Tinian and Rota, provided required high school courses so student can meet graduation requirements, supported retention of educators by providing certification and licensure courses at no cost, and, most recently, mobilized remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both ensuring the safety of students and staff while guaranteeing continued learning.
For the past 10 years, the CNMI Public School System Distance Education Program through the Student Portal Program has offered over 36 online courses to students looking to fulfill their graduation requirements. The program has a diverse reach as it caters to students and professionals throughout the CNMI, both within PSS and private schools.
Undertaking a new movement, ITDE has also launched Elementary and Middle School courses that focus on using technology to develop learning at the earlier stages of academia. The Digital Skills course is an investment for well-rounded learners as technology will continue to have a strong presence in education.
“Today’s professional development is about continuous improvement,” said Cruz. “Celebrating successes demonstrated by the data and leaning into opportunities for growth to ensure that the services we provide for our students and staff continue to support growth.” (Saipan Tribune)